Story and photos by Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor
If you are cruising through Hamakua some Tuesday afternoon and are feeling a little hungry, swing by the Dragon Deluxe Diner.
Honokaa High and Intermediate School’s Dragon Culinary Arts and Hospitality students have opened their own eatery right on campus.
The Dragon Deluxe Diner, which had its grand opening last week, is open 2:30-5 p.m. every Tuesday through March. Take-out is available.
“I couldn’t be prouder. It’s awesome,” said Alana Haitsuka-Fernandez, the culinary and hospitality teacher. “These kids do everything, all the creating, planning and cooking. They even picked out the salt and pepper shakers. I’m just the shopper.”
For her senior project, Hillary Ramos organized the grand opening event, complete with music and entertainment.
“Oh my goodness, I’m a little relieved. In the beginning, it was a little bit crazy, but it’s turned out awesome,” Ramos said. “It was mostly about time management. I learned you always need to have a ‘Plan B.’ But I couldn’t have done it without my classmates and teachers.”
Ramos, who would like a career in planning charity events, said the most popular menu item seemed to be the Korean chicken burger, but she has another favorite.
“Oh, it’s the Dorito salad, but mostly because I really like salads,” she said. “And the shakes are excellent.”
The students are hoping to raise enough money through the Dragon Deluxe Diner to take some educational field trips, including shadowing professionals in restaurants across the state. The ultimate would be to take a Norwegian Cruise Line inter-island trip and see how a cruise ship feeds so many people.
The next special event for the Honokaa culinary students is a Dec. 7 luncheon for classmates who has lost a loved one.
“We just want to know we are here for them and we really care about them,” Ramos said.
* Random reviews from customers at the grand opening:
“Not bad, but they need to have some rice.”
“I had the cheeseburger. I’d have it again.”
“This is a really good idea. The food’s good and the kids are learning a lot. They can go get a job after doing this.”
“It’s actually pretty good.”